Disclaimers: You know the drill, I know the drill, why we bother with this, I do not know.  BUT, I am not affiliated with the important people over at Sunrise.  Boo!

Sins of the Fathers

                The streets of Neo-Hong Kong had been alive with jubilation for days.  The parties and fireworks had been non-stop and in the center of it all was one man who didn't feel much like celebrating.  True, he had played one of, if not the, largest role in vanquishing the greatest evil to ever descend to the Earth, but it had cost him so much.  How could he celebrate when his beloved older brother, whom he spent nearly a year of his life trying without much success, to force himself to hate, would not have even been cold in his grave?  If there had been anything left to bury, that is.  How could he be joyous when his Master's revelation that humanity must live side by side with nature had cost him his life?

                In fact, Domon Kasshu might have even wondered what there could possibly be in his life to find even any amount of contentment in, if not for awakening each morning with the woman he loved in his arms, two young children who adored their 'big brother,' and after ten years, he could finally have a conversation with his father.  To be absolutely truthful, his wildest dreams had all become realities.  So while Domon didn't particularly want to celebrate, he wasn't quite the walking pain and misery he had been not so long ago.

                Finally, Domon Kasshu was beginning to heal.

                Laughter and smiles came a tad easier and a nice word was not so seldomly heard.  Those who had touched his heart in the past months may even dare to call him cheerful.  Domon was still no where near the level of a carefree and easy going existence as Sai Sici and certainly no one harbored any hopes that Domon could ever been even a shadow of that--he was, after all, a very serious young man and his responsibilities weighed heavily on him.  But at the same time, he was far from the stranger who crashed into Neo-Italy a year ago with only a scowl, a torn photograph and a Gundam to his name.  No one would deny Domon had changed more these past twelve months than the twenty years leading up to them added together.

                Of course, for every rule there is an exception and that was no different.  Domon's father, Professor Kasshu would tell anyone who asked that it wasn't possible for Domon to have changed more during the 13th Gundam Fight than he had in his formative years.  Why then, everyday brought changes and new view points and never ending discoveries.  But even the professor would smile proudly and admit Domon had become quite a man.  Perhaps a prouder father had never existed and if one had, he was surely the father of the last man would saved the world.

                And this was just part of the reason Professor Kasshu asked Domon to accompany him on the most difficult journey of his life.  Two things awaited him in the colony of Neo-Japan, things he didn't think he could take without his son by his side.  The first was the grave of his wife.  Buried in artificial turf for over a year, the professor had yet to read her headstone or lay flowers over the site.  It was a horrific omission he intended to correct.  The second was even more morbid, if such a thing was possible.  Professor Kasshu had also lost his elder son to the conflict that cost him his wife and left him frozen for a year.  Arrangements for a memorial service to Kyoji Kasshu had to be made and it only felt right that such a thing be planned and carried out at his home.  It was a terrible tragedy when a parent outlived his child and for Professor Kasshu, the wound ran deep.  The only thing that made it bearable was his dearest wife never knew a world he would know soon.  A world without Kyoji Kasshu.

                Domon and his father boarded a shuttle set out for Neo-Japan about two weeks after the defeat of the Devil Gundam.  They had invited Rain Mikamura to come along, but she respectfully declined, citing that such matters would be best left to family, but promised that she would attend the service.  Domon was reluctant to leave her behind.  After sharing each other's company for so long, Domon felt uncomfortable being without her.  Turning around and not seeing her just seemed wrong somehow. 

                He sat slumped in his chair on the shuttle, his legs stretched out in front of him and crossed at the ankle.  One arm sat stretched across his lap, the other was on the armrest in such a way that he could cup his chin in the palm of his hand.  Next to him, Professor Kasshu sat a good deal more dignified, but a heavy weight seemed to bare on his shoulders.  When Domon's eyes wandered his father, they stayed there for a long moment.  Other people were not normally so transparent to the King of Hearts and for the first time he realized how much of himself was in his father, how much had been passed to him.  For so long, his family had been the only thing on Domon's mind, but he had never given much thought to the genetics.  He, as Kyoji had been as well, was part his father and part his mother.  It was actually a comforting thought to know that even when he had been so far from home, a piece of his parents had been with him.  He had never thought about it like that before and with the piece of mind that came with his freedom from the Gundam Fight and the resolutions of his emotional turmoil, he found himself wondering why not.

                Domon was snapped out of such thoughts soon enough, though, as his father attempted to make conversation with the young man.  It was going to be a long ride back to the colony and talking to each other was the only way to pass the time they had.  Luckily, the reunion of not long ago had touched both of their hearts deeply.  Professor Kasshu was eager to really bond with the man his ten-year-old son had grown to be and Domon truly needed his father now more than he ever had before.  He had fought so hard against the threat that this moment may never come and the wound left by Master Asia was still fresh and painful.

                "I suppose you heard," Professor Kasshu had said.  "Neo-Japan lost the right to preside over the Colonial Alliance."  Actually, Domon hadn't heard.  The televised news had never been of much interest to him.  One of the other members of the Shuffle Delegation or Allenby could have passed the message on, but they had all returned to their countries so quickly after the Gundam Fight.  Their fatherlands wished to honor their places in the battle against the Devil Gundam themselves.  As for Domon and Rain, they had been more concerned with assuring Hoi and Min that everything was all right now.  It was a shame passengers could not see the Earth from the shuttle.  Domon could have looked down upon it and knew Rain was there, still staying by Hoi and Min's side.  But he couldn't see anything beyond the cabin, so Domon merely replied to his father with low pitched, smoothly flowing words.

                "That government was corrupt anyway."  Domon lifted his arm from his lap and set his elbow along the back of his chair and leaned his head back.  "They don't deserve such power.  Perhaps that is why Neo-Japan never won the Gundam Fight before."

                "The Committee came to the same conclusion when Ishikawa's role in the Devil Gundam conspiracy was revealed.  Even with him gone and the Devil Gundam defeated, it may be a long time before Neo-Japan is trusted again."  The professor sighed.  "Years of hard work brought nothing but ruin.  So many have suffered."

                "People have always suffered," Domon replied.  There was no life without pain. 

                "It's not that straight forward when you are the cause of it," his father said softly.  "If not for me, Neo-Japan would not have lost its honor."

                Angrily, Domon pulled himself out of his relaxed position and felt his muscles stiffen with ire.  "To blame yourself is absurd."  He sighed.  "Self-pity is self-destructive."

                "I suppose its also rather egotistic," the professor chuckled, "to say that the state of our nation can be blamed on one man."

                "Two," Domon corrected, "but neither one is you."

                "We all heard you say that Mikamura took the blame for the Devil Gundam.  Did you try to convince him otherwise?"

                Again, Domon sighed and shifted in his seat.  "There was no time.  He was dying, Father, those were his last words."  The professor nodded.  He had heard Domon's entire speech to Rain; he knew.  "I don't blame him for all that happened.  I wish I could have told him, but forgiving him through Rain will have to be good enough."

                "He betrayed us," Domon's father said gravely.  "All that happened could have been prevented if not for him."

                Confusion clouded Domon's mind has his eyes traced his father's visage.  There was more to the Devil Gundam, anything, at that, than the contribution of one man.  One of Domon's more difficult lessons of the past year, taught to him by Schwarz during the deadly cage match, was that no one person could affect their surrounds and situation.  People needed other people to make accomplishments and live their lives to the fulfillment of their potential.  To place all the blame on one person, even if he claimed it, just couldn't be done.

                "But there was so much..." Domon protested.  "Mikamura, Urube, the military, the Gundam itself.  You can't pick out just one.   It was all of them."

                "Then you do blame me."

                "What?" Domon asked, startled.

                "The Gundam, Ultimate, Devil, that was mine.  You would sooner condemn me."

                Domon's eyes widened.  "Father, no!  All I wanted was to clear your name.  I never believed you were... the one..."  Domon swallowed a lump in his throat.  Somehow, he had always expected this conversation would be easier.  His father would see all that he had done for him.  But, despite his poetic words, Domon suddenly felt like a child again.  Why couldn't his father see that the line between love and hate was not as thin as some liked to say.  He could no more hate someone he had once loved, be it his father or brother or would-be uncle than he could somehow stop being himself.  And to hold a grudge...That was not Domon Kasshu.

                He had a good heart.  He could forgive.

                "Father?"  The word eeked out of his throat, like the plea of the emotional child he had once been and not the passionate man he was.  With only the slightest gesture of beckoning for the other man, Domon pressed his head against his father's shoulder.  "I could never condemn you," he whispered.  "Please, Papa, believe me."  He squeezed his eyes shut, trying to keep himself from crying, but the tears pushed themselves out anyway and dribbled across the bridge of Domon's nose and from the corners of his eyes, moistening his father's shirt.

                The other man, responding not to the tears, as he didn't feel them, but his son's gesture, held him a best he could in the cramped cabin of the shuttle.

                "Domon," he murmured, "I could never be as good a man as you.  Given the chance I could never forgive."  Domon lifted his head and his black hair fell across his eyes, marring his vision.  His lips parted in a silent gasp.  "When someone hurts your child, Domon, there is no worse crime in the eyes of a parent.  I hope you must never learn this first hand."

                Domon drew away, "Then you must hate me.  I, I killed Brother...  It was me...  These glowing hands of mine..."  The professor pulled his son back into a hug.

                "No, Kyoji was dead long before you killed his body.  Urube, Mikamura...  They are the murderers.  They are the tainted."

                "They're gone."  Domon slumped in his seat.  "They can't hurt anyone anymore."

                "We will always live with the pain, Domon."  The young man straightened at his father's words and listened, averting his eyes.  "As time goes by, perhaps it will lessen, but hearts are scarred by pain.  The legacy of their deeds continues."

                "Maybe that's so," Domon conceded, "but we are no better than them.  The Gundam Fight cause pain and suffering on Earth.  Neither of us are innocent.  Your designs, my fights, it all contributes to the pain the people on Earth feel."

                "You've become quite the philosopher," the professor observed, "but you are right."

                "This past year, I've met children who have no parents, people fleeing the cities, fighters used by their countries.  I'm not going to pretend that none of that exists.  People suffer everywhere, and no one is immune to causing it.  We can't hate those who hurt us while we hurt others."

                "My anger is for your mother and Kyoji, not myself."

                "Then I'm no better than you," Domon said.  "Given the chance, I could never forgive Urube for what he did to Rain.  But he's gone, so I'll just make sure no one ever hurts her or uses her again.  That's all I can do now."

                "When you were younger," Professor Kasshu mused nostalgically, "and the two of you were such close friends, I always wondered if you would fall in love someday."  Domon blushed and looked away again.  "When you left with Master Asia, it seemed to be the end of that.  Now, though, I wonder if she can be trusted."

                "What are you saying?" Domon erupted, clenching his teeth the moment the demand had left his mouth.

                "Her father was my best friend, and yet he turned out to be not trust-worthy.  Mikamura raised Rain by himself.  There's no telling what sort of values he's instilled in her.  I don' want you to be with someone who would be willing to hurt you should that be convenient for her."

                "Rain would never betray me," but even as he spoke, he remembered that she nearly left him for Seitt, that she let Allenby be kidnapped, that she abandoned him and turned to Schwarz, that she finally left him to return to Neo-Japan with her father.  All of those things had wounded him, even though Domon knew Rain intended no harm, in most instances, she was trying to keep him from being harmed.  When she would try to protect him, Domon usually jumped to wrong conclusion.  He was too rash, he knew that now. 

                "I once thought that about Mikamura.  But he was there when the military attacked our family.  He wouldn't even meet my eyes."

                "He was ashamed."

                "He didn't even try to stop them.  Even afterwards, he lead you to believe he was on your side."

                "He was," Domon protested.  "He was prepared to turn himself in, he took the blame, he saved you!"

                "You're too trusting, Domon," his father said, "How many people have to hurt you before you learn to cautious?"

                "Be cautious?" Domon echoed.  "Is that what you call it?  I can't push the people I care about away anymore.  I wasted too much time doing that."

                "There's difference between being alone and being cautious," the professor griped his son's shoulder as he spoke.  "But, I think a good idea would be to find someone you can really trust."

                "I can trust Rain!"

                "You're young, son.  This is you're first relationship, correct?"  Domon nodded somewhat uneasily.  "You don't know what you're looking for in a partner, yet.  Making a mistake now could scar you for life."

                "I'm not making a mistake, Father.  I need her."

                "I just don't want to see you get hurt, Domon."

                Domon slumped in his seat as much as he could, "It's too late for that, Father."  He straightened then, as something else occurred to him.  "And I won't let you, or anyone, speak about Rain that way."

                "I'm only looking out for your best interest."  A pause.  "You're all I've got left."

                "Then don't doubt Rain."


                It was hard to feel lonely when two young children demanded attention nearly every waking moment, but Rain Mikamura managed it anyway.  The last bit of her family was no longer with her, her friends had returned to their homes in the colonies while she was still left on the earth, and Domon, so soon after promising to be with her forever, was off with his father.

                Oh, sure, he'd assumed she was going to Neo-Japan with them, only to be surprised and a bit upset when he realized she hadn't packed.  She explained to Domon and his father that she wouldn't be comfortable making plans that were obviously best left to family when the latter formally asked her to come.  She promised to attend the memorial service and regretfully sent them on their way with a bow for the professor and a quick kiss good-bye for Domon.

                Rain missed her lover terribly, realizing yet again the depth of her feelings for him.  He hadn't even been gone long enough to have reached the colony yet, but she still remained anxiety-ridden, wondering when he would contact her.  It wouldn't be unlike the Domon of the past year not to bother calling at all until he was ready for her to do him some sort of favor, but the new Domon that appreciated her and was able to admit that he loved her, well, he would call, wouldn't he?  Rain only wanted to see a fuzzy image transported from so far away and hear him tell her that he missed her.  He didn't even have to miss her as much as she missed him--though that would be nice--just to be as sweet as she knew he could be, without prodding.

                Loneliness was a terrible thing.

                Rain was watching the sunlight glitter over the calm bay, having stolen a few seconds to herself.  Hoi and Min could be such a handful when Domon wasn't there to play with them as well.  Normally the children focused their energies on their honorary big brother, but with Domon off to visit his own childhood home, the kids were clamoring for their sister to play with them.  Which would be fine, except Rain also had her share of the housework to do, the hole in her heart left by her father's passing and Domon's going off without her and missing her adult friends.  Hoi and Min were cute, innocent and energetic, but they weren't a replacement for adult conversation.

                Rain wondered for a moment if this was how stay-at-home mothers felt, but at least they knew when their husbands would be coming home.

                "Sister!" Min called, running across the deck with her brown hair pulled out of its signature buns and streaming behind her.  When she reached Rain, she tugged on the woman's hand with one of her own.  The other clutched a hair brush that she held up to Rain.  "Brush my hair?"

                Rain took the brush and hefted Min into her arms, carrying her to where they could sit down and comfortably brush Min's hair until it shone.  Maybe they could experiment with a few other styles before tying her hair into buns with the yellow cloth covers.

                "You're really sad, Sister," Min observed.

                As she continued brushing, Rain sighed, "I just miss everyone.  My father, Domon, my friends...  Now that the Gundam Fight is over, I don't even know what I'm going to do with my life anymore.  I worked through school for years to become a doctor, only to be pulled out of University.  Everything is different from where I was this time last year.  I don't know where I'm going anymore."

                Min turned around, disrupting the rhythm of Rain's brushing.  "Don't go anywhere.  You can stay with us forever!  And when Brother comes back, then you'll be happy again."

                "I don't know what Domon will be doing, either.  He's devoted his life to his training.  I've been wondering since before we even arrived here in Hong Kong what he would do with the Gundam Fight was over.  We can't just stay here forever, Min, Domon and I are adults.  We have to support ourselves."

                "Being grown-up is hard," Min said.


                "Yeah," Min affirmed.  "You and Brother are always sad about something and now you say you can't just stay and be happy."

                "It's not quite like that, Min," Rain said, "But I still miss everyone."

                Min smiled, "If you like Brother so much," she chirped, "You should go after him."

                "I am going to Neo-Japan for the memorial service," Rain corrected.

                "But why are you waiting?" the little girl asked. 

                "What Domon and his father have to do back at the colony is best left to family," Rain explained.  "What he's going through is very difficult.  The best thing that could happen is bonding between father and son.  I don't want to stand in their way.  It's been ten years since they had any real time together.  Who am I to take that away from people I care about?"

                "But won't Brother be happier with you there?" Min asked.  "He really likes you."  Rain could have laughed, but instead she lifted Min off of her lap, setting the little girl on the deck and crouching so that she could look her in the eye.

                "Domon's older brother died," Rain said.  "All his family has to honor him is a memorial service.  Kyoji was like a brother to me and I'll go when the time comes, but for now, it's best that Domon and his father do this together."

                "When my mommy and daddy died," Min said, "I didn't want to be myself.  It was scary, like the same monster that got them would get me.  I bet Brother doesn't want to be alone, either."

                "He's not alone, his father is with him..." Rain trailed off and turned away, "I should be, too."  She faced Min again.  "How can I believe that I love him, when I'm not even with him when he needs me?"

                "Dunno," Min answered, reaching up to wipe the tears that had sprung from Rain's eyes.  "But you should go see him.  He'll be happy and so will you and that's good."  Rain started to stand, but Min seized one of her hands in both of her own.  "But if you go, you have to promise to come back."

                "I will," she said, "I promise.  And when I come back, Domon will be with me.  And then we'll all figure out where we are going, like a family."


                Domon Kasshu sat on the porch in what had once been the place he thought of as his back yard, a lifetime ago.  It was nice to just be able to sit in a familiar part of his home without illusions or memories assaulting him.  Which wasn't to say he wasn't troubled.  With the conversation he had with his father on the way to the colony still fresh in his mind, Domon's feelings and instincts clashed one another.

                Loyalty.  It wasn't just a concept, it was way of life.  How else could he have never doubted Master Asia or be so determined to save his father, regardless of the evidence of the older man's crimes.  The though of betraying his father's wishes was unbearable to Domon, especially given that they had so recently become a part of each others lives again.  And yet, he maintained loyalty to Rain as well.  She had spent a year by his side and Domon was damned if that year didn't become a lifetime.  Forever together, that was their promise.

                Love.  Love, anger and grief; that was what he had for so long, love for his father, anger at his brother, grief for his mother.  Love, anger and grief; they had been his constant companions; unspoken love for his partner, anger at her endless reminders of lies that he just didn't want to hear, grief that shattered his heart and left him sobbing when she left him.  He loved his father; how could he not?  But he loved Rain as well, loved her enough to risk the fate of the world just to tell her so.

                For years, Domon had harbored a fear of being weak, but now it seemed to him that he was far too weak to live without either loved one in his life, though he had flourished without them both for ten years.  But that was no longer important.  The past held nothing for him.  Domon had made a vow to himself to look towards the future, but what was there?  He didn't know.  Yesterday, yesterday he knew.  Life was simple before he knew what the man who helped give him life thought of the love of his life.

                He couldn't stop trusting Rain; Domon would trust her forever, but he didn't want to alienate his father, either.  After the shuttle landed and the Kasshu men returned to the home of so long ago, Domon had been avoiding his father.  What more could he say that the professor owed Rain faith in her.  She was nearly shattered by the truth of the true conspirators.  That first night he had her back, she cried in his arms, whispering through her tears how could it be that her father would cause Domon so much pain?  Having no words of comfort, for either the lost of Professor Mikamura or her feelings of guilt for all of Domon and Kyoji's pain, Domon just held her, trying to give her support, like she had done for him when he needed it.

                He wished she was with him now.


                Her voice even echoed through his mind.


                It was a strange vision to imagine her running across the back yard of his childhood home wearing that pink dress of hers and with a duffel bag slung over her shoulder, as Domon was certain that he had never seen that before, so it was no memory.

                She wasn't wearing her signature white necklace, which had been lost when Major Urube Ishikawa used her body as a battery.

                It wasn't a memory.


                "Rain!"  Domon leapt to his feet and covered the distance still between them at a run.  He pulled her into his arms with such speed and force that Rain's luggage tumbled from it's casual perch on her shoulder and fell to the neatly trimmed grass.

                "I know I said I wouldn't come until it was time for the service, but I missed you so much," Rain told him.  "I feel kind of silly about it, but Min commented on how sad I was without you."

                Domon, having had a similar experience not long ago, said, "The kids have us pegged."

                "Children can pick up on their surroundings very quickly and they don't have the mindset that adults do.  Hoi and Min are more willing to talk about a problem when they find one."  Rain leaned into Domon and his arms around her reflectively hugged tighter.

                "Problem?" he echoed.  How could anyone left behind on Earth know about the most recent complication? 

                Rain snuggled against him, "I was miserable without you."  Domon blushed so that his entire face was red, but said nothing.  Offended, Rain pulled away, about to demand whether he missed her at all, but saw his face and just laughed instead.  Determined not to let the blush die down--Domon was just too cute like that--Rain kissed the tip of his nose.

                Eventually, the two had to let each other go and when they did, Rain said, "I should go say hello to your father.  Is he inside?"  Without waiting for the answer, Rain started for the back door, but Domon caught her hand and pulled her back.

                "Don't," Domon began, unable to figure out how to finish that sentence.  He had yet to decide how he was going to handle the situation, but didn't want Rain to confront his father until then.  Which gave him no time to settle on the answer, but his problem-solving abilities where better under pressure, so perhaps that was best.  He couldn't afford to sit and pity his own bad luck anymore; now it was time for action and Domon Kasshu was a man of action.

                "Later, then," Rain replied, sparing Domon the trouble of finishing his directive.  "How was your trip?" she asked.

                "Just a trip," he responded.  Rain frowned; was he avoiding her question?  She really couldn't think of a reason for him to do so.  She was probably just being paranoid, anyway.  Her intimate relationship with Domon was still young.  It was still new and they hadn't found their niche together yet.  If he didn't want to answer a question, he didn't want to answer.  That was certainly like the Domon she knew and no reason for her to assume he was hiding something.  Hiding things from her wasn't like Domon either.  He may not be very verbal, but when something was bothering him, he was so transparent.

                "Mine was lonely," Rain said, though Domon didn't return her question.  "I didn't have anyone to talk to.  How nice that you were able to travel with family."  Domon appeared uncomfortable to her trained eye.  Which meant he had some issue with his father.  How depressing; after all his work to save his father, now that the professor was with Domon again, they were bunting heads.  Well, Rain decided, helping to correct this was the least she could do.  Family was too important to waste time on silly disagreements.

                Rain paused to retrieve her duffel bag and slung it over her shoulder again.  She wasn't looking forward to the inevitable conversation about where she would stay. She couldn't assume that she was welcome just yet in the Kasshu household, she wasn't supposed to come to the colony for another few days at least, but she didn't want to offend by finding a hotel.  And that wasn't even counting her feelings of not belonging at Neo-Japan.  With the death of her father, came the loss of her home.  She still didn't know what was going to happen to the building or the Mikamura family's possessions.  There was a good chance it was all legally hers, but no lawyers had approached her and truth be told her father had never spoken to her about the uncomfortable subject of his will and unavoidable passing.

                "Let's go put your stuff inside," Domon said after a moment, making Rain's worries of an awkward conversation obsolete.  Rain followed him through the door, hoping to see Professor Kasshu along the way through the house.  She didn't want to take him by surprise or cause him to think she was somehow taking advantage of their hospitality.  Had she done more planning for her trip, she would have brought a gift.  She was, Rain realized, being terribly rude.  Perhaps she could make dinner during her time staying with the Kasshus.  Yes, that seemed appropriate.

                When they reached Domon's room, the majority of which had gone untouched since he was ten years old, Domon gestured for Rain to just drop her bag on the floor near his futon.

                "Wow," Rain breathed, "this brings back so many memories."  Domon and Rain spent so many hours playing here when they were young.  Not just playing, either, but reading, listening to Kyoji tell them stories, drawing, even arguing over little, unimportant things that meant the world to them at the time.  Rain could even remember curling up on Domon's futon and crying the day he left with Master Asia.  So confident that she would never see her best friend again, Rain mourned Domon like one would mourn a death.   

                Domon froze and blushed at Rain's comment.  "You don't have a problem staying here?" he questioned.  Reassuringly, Rain rubbed Domon's shoulders.

                "Of course not," she answered.  Rain held him awkwardly as he was of a larger mass than she, but he made no move to reverse their positions.  "I came here to be with you," Rain reminded him.  "I'll always be by your side."

                "Forever together," Domon murmured.  Rain squirmed closer to him, whispering a few choice phrases into his ear.  He stiffened, his blush returning, and she pulled away, laughing. 

                "Forever together," Rain repeated, wondering as she stepped around Domon how long forever would be.  When things were new and exciting, couples announce they will always be together.  And yet, relationships always end, be it by a willing separation or a marriage ended by death.  Well, she and Domon had no wedding plans, but it might be something worth considering...

                Best not to think about it so soon, and especially given the current circumstances.  Weddings and would-be funerals didn't seem like the sort of thing that would mix.

                "Has your father gone to your mother's grave yet?" Rain asked.  Perhaps it was better to kill the playful mood, after all, the reason they had come to Neo-Japan was hardly a pleasant one.

                "Not until tomorrow," Domon answered, "He said he was tired after the trip and wants to be more composed."

                "Understandable," Rain said, wishing there was somewhere to sit down other than floor cushions.  Living in without tradition Japanese furnishings for so long, Rain had come to think of settling on the floor more conductive of a lasting conversation than casually dropping onto a vacant chair.  "Sudden deaths are so difficult to deal with and your parents were married for so long."

                "Your dealing with the sudden death of your father well," Domon replied.

                "No, I'm not," Rain said, looking away.  "I try not to think about.  And when I do..."  she trailed off and swallowed hard.  "I was so cold-hearted to him.  He probably thought I hated him."  Rain would have sunk to the floor in her sorrow, but Domon braced her.  She began to cry and at a lost of what to do, he hugged her.  Rain hugged back, sobbing against him.

                "He still loved you.  All he wanted was for you to be safe."

                "I just wonder, if he had lived, if I would have been able to forgive him."

                "You would have," Domon replied.  "Anger doesn't get you anywhere."

                "I guess," Rain murmured, her tears wiped away somewhat by the cloth of Domon's shirt, "that if I've learned anything from the Gundam Fight, it's don't waste time being angry at the people you love."

                "Sounds like a good lesson," Domon agreed, no doubt thinking about his brother.  Oh, he could disown Kyoji with his words all he wanted, but when the brothers, and the elder's pseudo-German doopalganger, for that matter, came face to face, the love was marred by sorrow and anger, but never hatred.

                "Too late now," Rain said, her suddenly flurry of tears quelled.  She had been bottling up her own sorrow during the celebrations back on Earth, not wanting to dampen the good time others, but letting it out as she just had was something Rain hadn't even noticed she needed.  Strange that she hadn't noticed in her quiet, solitary mourning, that she needed to share her feelings with others, with the people she loved.

                It was then that Rain realized with a start, while Domon prattled on about lessons and Master Asia--the one he associated most with the learning process--that in the two weeks since Domon confessed the depths of his feelings for her, Rain had yet to reply in kind.  Her words implied her feelings in a sort of indirect way and frankly she wouldn't put it past Domon to childishly assume Rain loved him solely because he loved her, but she hadn't actually said it, hadn't told him so. 

                "It's never too late," Domon was finishing up as Rain looked on him with wonder.  "Lessons are learned so that they may be used later in life."

                "And the dead?" Rain asked, continuing the conversation, though she would have rather told Domon of her love for him.

                "The living still learn from their experiences."

                "And from their memory," Rain added.  Domon nodded.  They exited his room and spent the rest of the basking in the simple pleasure of being together again.  It was doubtful that a dark cloud wouldn't settle over them soon enough.

                And that wasn't even counting Professor Kasshu had objections to their romance; that unfortunate complication had completely slipped Domon's mind.  Until, of course, the lovers path through the house took them to the living room, where the professor, after waking up from a short, yet refreshing nap, had gone to read the Neo-Japanese newspaper.  He looked up upon hearing footsteps and covered his startled flash of hostility when he saw Rain particularly well.  Neither of the young lovers noticed and within seconds, a polite smile was plastered on the face of Domon's father.

                "Hello, Rain," he said, setting the periodical aside.

                "Hello, sir," Rain replied, dislodging her hand from the threaded grasp she had on Domon's and bowed to his father in greeting.  "I hope its not an inconvenience that I came early."

                "Of course not," the elder answered.  "You're always welcome, Rain."  At that statement, Domon snatched Rain's hand possessively.  She shot a glance at him in surprise, but Domon, looking at his father, didn't notice.  He narrowed his eyes, an angry, defiant expression meant for his sire, but Rain caught it as well.  She wasn't sure who it was aimed at, but thought it unlikely that Domon would upset with his father, until she remembered how he avoided talking about his shuttle trip.  With not-so-mild suspicions, though she wasn't sure what the problem was, Rain back to Professor Kasshu.

                "Thank you, sir."

                "No need for such formalities," the elder said with good humor.  Rain laughed.  Domon frowned.

                "I'm sorry I didn't bring anything," Rain said.  "I'm not a very good guest.  I thought I could take care of some of the housework while I'm here."

                "It's a kind offer, but really not necessary."

                "At least let me do the cooking.  I know I'm not as good a cook as some, but it's really the least I can do."  Rain tossed another glance at Domon.  She grinned at him and turned back to the professor.  "Domon complains about my cooking, but he certainly eats enough of it."  Domon glared and blushed and looked as though he would like nothing more defend himself against that accusation or, barring that, leave.  He did neither; his father was laughing too hard.  The though that sharing a sense of humor between Rain and his father could be a good sign didn't cross his mind.

                "A home cooked meal would be lovely," came the reply.  "I haven't had one since I was unfrozen."

                If not for the reminder of the past year's sordid ordeal, Rain could have beamed.  It was at that moment that she realized it hadn't ended with the final destruction of the Devil Gundam.  The 13th Gundam Fight would be impacting her life, both directly and indirectly, for as long as she lived.  The fighting may have stopped but for the three people in the Kasshu living room, the Gundam Fight of F.C. 60 would never truly end.  It's repercussions would continue forever.  Rain wondered if the lives of the other four Shuffle Delegation members and Allenby were so shattered.  Thus far, she'd imagined they only gained...friendships, new fighting techniques, new perspectives...  But hey had still changed forever.

                What Rain said was, "I'll be sure to my best."  She nudged Domon, "Learned a few tips from Min."  Domon rolled his eyes.


                Rain was in the kitchen that evening, trying to salvage an ill-prepared dish when Professor Kasshu wandered in.  Domon had taken to trying to polish the rust from his katana--a venture probably as futile as Rain's.  She supposed he wasn't so used to having nothing to do in his own home, and didn't think anything of it.  Besides, Rain had her hands full with the main dish and the meal's rice about to boil over.

                "Need a hand?" Professor Kasshu asked.

                "No thanks," Rain said as she dashed between the counter and the stove.  "I've got it covered.  I think."  She laughed a self-deprecating chuckle.  "This recipe was just a bit too complicated for me."

                "I'm sure it's fine.  I wonder, though, why you are so anxious to be here.  You said yourself the plans for my elder son's memorial were best left to family."  There was no where to sit in the kitchen, as the dining area was a separate room, so the professor remained standing, but in a casual, conversation-ready way.  He appeared set to settle into a nice long heart-to-heart between himself and the woman who captured the heart of his younger son.

                "I don't intend to get involved in that," Rain said quickly.  "It is the duty of family and I wouldn't dream of interfering.  I just thought that Domon could use support.  All of this has been so difficult for him and I want to be there when he needs me."

                "You," a pause, as though Domon's father was searching for the right word, "presume to know, rather, to be, what he needs?"

                "He's told me so, sir," Rain said, lapsing into formalities.  "Loved ones are always needed in trying times, in any event.  I just want to be here for him."

                "How selfless," the professor said.  Though his tone was kind, Rain couldn't help but feel he was more sarcastic than supportive.  "You truly are such a kind girl."

                "There was more too it than that," Rain said, feeling an urge to defend her impulsive actions.  Or was it incriminate?  "A little selfish, I must admit.  I missed Domon so much; I was miserable.  It's amazing how dependent on the presence of another person you can be after only a year together."

                "Just imagine after thirty," Kasshu told her half wistful, half angry.  "The idea that the person you've grow so accustomed to is unbearable.  Never like a bad dream.  Just painfully real."

                "I'm so sorry for your loss, sir," Rain said softly.  "I can't, can't imagine life without Domon.  I know can't empathize, but I do feel just terrible.  Not only because you must be in so much pain, but because...you know."  She looked away as shame rippled through her, unable to meet the professor's eyes.

                "So you admit it," he said sharply, startling Rain into facing him again.  Her eyes wide and a gasp caught in her throat.  She mouthed 'admit it,' as he continued, "You are all that's left of the honorless family that has left mine in shambles."

                What had been her greatest fear coming from Domon was now face-to-face with Rain in the form of his father.  The sins of her father fell onto her shoulders in his eyes, just because of her bloodline.

                Rain turned the heat on the stove down to salvage the rice before dumping the irreparable side dish into the trash.  She sighed, swallowed and tried to compose herself.  Anger at the professor's words flooded through her.  Domon saw her innocence, how could his father, certainly the more intelligent and rational of the two, not understand that she had no part in her father's actions.  And on top of that, devoted a year of her life to correct those actions and save Professor Kasshu, all the while under the impression that all of Domon's sorrow had been a deliberate action on his part.

                "I won't take the blame for what's happened," Rain said stiffly.  She would live with the guilt for the rest of her life; such was her burden left by the 13th Gundam Fight, but she wouldn't let others use that against her.  She probably wouldn't have had the conviction, but Domon, who despite his hair trigger temper was nearly utterly incapable of holding a grudge for more than ten minutes, had absolutely refused to let Rain go on blaming herself.  She supposed a large part of his complete forgiveness of Rain for the crimes of her father was how Domon was raised.  Alone with Tohofuhai for much of his life, Domon didn't have the grasp on concepts like family honor that his own father and Rain had.  The idea that Rain could let the blame for the Devil Gundam fall on her shoulders had made Domon livid.  He gripped her shoulders tightly, just a little over a week ago, and through clenched teeth told Rain he wouldn't--couldn't--stand by and watch her hate herself over something that had nothing to do with her.

                "I am sorry," Rain continued, remembering Domon's scolding so clearly, "but I can't let that stop me from living, especially when I worked so hard to correct it.  I won't let the sins of my father stop me from loving your son or accepting the love that he feels for me."  Rain turned away and crossed the room to the door as quickly as she could without running.  She refused to lose her composure, but was desperate to get away from Professor Kasshu.  His voice cut through her like a spear of ice as she stepped over the threshold.

                "Domon doesn't know what love is."

                Rain, frozen in place, one hand gripping the doorframe for support found it difficult to speak for a moment, but found her voice.  "Then what was the point of the past year?"  She didn't give him time to answer before disappearing.  Truth be told, she didn't want to know what he would say.


                Domon Kasshu, an immature man-child of a fighter, was at no other moment more like a little boy with a new toy then when he poured his energies into working with his katana, be it trying to cut a tree or simply giving it a good polishing job.  From the looks of the rusty, beat-up sword, one may think that it's previous owner made no attempt to take care of it or even went so far as to leave it out in the mud and rain, trying to make the least effective weapon possible.

                In the time he had been working, Domon had made next to no progress in cleaning the sword up, but he was stubborn and believed in taking care of the things you love, so he hadn't given up, or even taken a break since he started, despite the frequent growling of his stomach and infinite distractions in his childhood room, such as abandoned toys he had a sudden and inexplicable desire to play with.

                When Rain burst in, Domon was caught completely unaware.  His inquiry as to whether dinner was ready died on his lips when he saw her face.  He'd seen Rain mad before and come to associate it with something bad about to happen to him.  He grimaced on the inside, but said nothing.  Rain closed the door behind her and, leaning against it, slid to the floor.  Her knees pulled up against her, she dropped her head so that her forehead rested against them.  When her shoulders began to shudder with sobbing, Domon placed his katana and polishing supplies aside and went to her side.

                "Rain," he said, just loud enough to be heard over her occasional gasping breath, "don't cry."

                To Rain's credit, she tried, she really tired to calm down, but once she was close, a vision of Professor Kasshu trying to stand in the way of her relationship with Domon.  The King of Hearts was all she had left...well, not counting all her dear friends in their own colonies and the kids back on Earth and their elderly caretaker.  Still, no matter how many friends she had, they could never replace a loving family, and Domon was the closest thing she had to that.  She belonged with him, being with him felt right like nothing in her life ever had and on top of that she loved him more than it should be possible to love someone.  She couldn't imagine living with the dark cloud of disapproval hovering over her whenever she was with Domon, but she couldn't imagine living, period, with being with Domon.  And then there was Professor Kasshu's cruel implication that Domon didn't really love her.  Hah!  If anyone knew what love was, it was Domon Kasshu.  He had just saved himself for the right person, and if his father had problems with who the right person came from, then that was just...Just...Just what?  She didn't know.  Thus, despite Domon's request, Rain did not stop crying.

                Frowning, Domon held Rain and let her get her tears out of her system, still whispering for her not to cry.  She was bound to stop sooner or later and it was really the only words of comfort he knew.  When she had run out of tears enough to just sniffle, Domon reassuringly rubbed her back.

                "What's wrong?" he asked.  "It's okay if you ruined dinner.  We can go out..."  He trailed off when Rain laughed bitterly.  Pausing, and deciding on the spot it wasn't a sound he liked, Domon waited for Rain to reply.

                "Your father hates me."  It was a dull, flat statement, devoid of the emotion she had been pouring out.  Rain yanked herself out of Domon's arms and sat straight up.  She wiped her eyes and, trying to keep a blank expression, stared off into something on the other side of the room.

                "He doesn't hate you," Domon said, wishing that their confrontation could have waited until after dealing with his mother's grave and his brother's lack of one.

                "He doesn't want us to be together," Rain said.  "It's obviously trying to kill me."  Domon, thinking back on the final battle with the Devil Gundam, before which Professor Kasshu had told him killing Rain was the only chance to stop it, and Domon's own proclamation that he would never give up on Rain.  "You knew?" Rain asked after the silence has gone on long enough, "You knew, didn't you?"

                "The shuttle trip," Domon answered.

                "You could have warned me," Rain commented.

                "Warned you?" Domon burst out with disbelief.  "So that you could go back to trying to get yourself thrown in jail?  Rain, it doesn't matter what anyone thinks.  I love you and I want to be with you.  The only thing that matters is that you are by my side."

                Rain cupped Domon's chin in her hand and kissed him softly.  She pulled back so that there was maybe a hair's width between their lips.  "I love you, too," she mumbled, aware that it was the first time she had said so clearly and at point-blank.  It felt ...freeing somehow.  The feeling was fleeting, though, as Domon kissed her passionately at the confession and the touch of his lips and taste of his breath was all that she could comprehend.  Even her hands, one still caressing his cheek and the other tangled in his mess of untamed hair seemed so far away, like they weren't hers.  But oddly enough, that didn't matter.  Nothing mattered.  Not loneliness, not death, not Domon's father; only that she loved Domon, Domon loved her and they were together.

                "Come on," Domon said, standing up and hauling Rain to her feet.  "We'll go out to dinner, the three of us, and flaunt our togetherness until he understands.  We'll be together forever and no one can change that."

                Far from protesting, Rain looked at Domon slyly.  "How did you know I ruined dinner?"

                "Was it microwaveable?"


                "Then you can't make it without help."

                Domon just chuckled as Rain repeatedly smacked him without effect as the young lovers left in search of Professor Kasshu.

                Their futures will still in question, but as long as they were together, Rain had a new surge of confidence.  They would return to the Earth in time, as she had promised to Min, and face it then.  As for now, she had the present to deal with, and deal with it she would.  Maybe she was just being optimistic--and would that really be such a bad thing?--but she was sure that she could win Professor Kasshu over.  He was bound to see that she was still the same woman she had always been someday.  And if he didn't, she'd keep trying to make him see.

                Rain smiled at Domon. He smiled back, a sight she still adored for it's novelty.  Rain looped her arm through his, even though he didn't offer.  The future was in front of her and it was bright, because they were together.


Sore de wa, Gundam Fight!  Ready? Go!!